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Inspiring Stories

Hands


Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this mob, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighborhood.

Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer, the Elder's, children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.

After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by laboring in the mines.

They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg. Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.

When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honored position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you."

All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, "No ...no ...no ...no."

Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look ... look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother ... for me it is too late."

More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolors, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.

One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love "The Praying Hands."

The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you still need one, that no one -- no one - - ever makes it alone!

Remember to sincerely thank those who have helped you to get where you are!

Thanks Kanta Masters, for sending this story.  

Dad, son united after 27 years

For gas station clerk Nueng Garcia, it was just another day on the job until he noticed the name of one man who paid with a check.
"Are you John Garcia?" he asked the man.
"Yes," came the answer.
"Were you ever in the Air Force?"
"Yes."
"Did you ever have a son?"
With that question, the two stared at each other and realized at the same moment that they were the father and son who had been separated 27 years ago and half a world away. "I started thinking - this couldn't be. I was totally shocked," the elder Garcia said today on ABC's "Good Morning America. Until Monday's chance meeting, John Garcia had not seen his son since July 1969, when the elder Garcia was a young American serviceman. Nueng was just 3 months old when his father left him and his mother, Pratom Semon, in Thailand. Both father and son said the woman did not want to leave their homeland for the united States. Garcia said he continued to write and send checks to his son's mother after he left Thailand. Nueng said his mother was seeing another man, who put a stop to his father's correspondence. After two years of writing, Garcia lost touch with his son. In later years, he sent letters to the government in Bangkok seeking an address. They went unanswered. Nueng Garcia and his mother had moved to Colorado Springs in 1971, after immigrating to the United states with another American serviceman Semon married and has since divorced. By chance, John Garcia moved to Pueblo nine years ago to take a job. That their paths met this week was even more unlikely. Garcia said he never goes to that gas station, wasn't even low on gas and hardly ever pays with a check. "I don't even know why I stopped for gas," he said. His newfound 27-year-old son put his arm around the man who was once a stranger and said, "Dad...I'm glad you stopped."As for their plans now, Nueng said: "Twenty-seven years is long time - we're catching up."

Thanks Warren Woodward, for sending this story.

Christmas Reunion
The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in urban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church,it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve. They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc., and on Dec. 18 were ahead ofschedule and just about finished. On Dec 19 a terrible tempest - a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sunk when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 6 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high. The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, hand-made, ivory colored, crochet table cloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church. By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc. to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. "Pastor," she asked, "Where did you get that tablecloth?" The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crochet into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria. The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. She was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again. The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job. What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn't leaving. The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how couldthere be two tablecloths so much alike? He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a concentration camp. He never saw his wife or his home again for all the 35 years in between. The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine. True Story

-- submitted by Pastor Rob Reid

Love Story

John Blanchard stood up from the bench,straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn't, the girl with the rose. His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner's name, Miss Hollis Maynell. With time and effort he located her address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond. The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II. During the next year and one month the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph,but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn't matter what she looked like. When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting - 7:00 PM at the Grand Central Station in New York. "You'll recognize me," she wrote, "by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel." So at 7:00 he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he'd never seen. I'll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened: A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim.Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her,entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips."Going my way,sailor?" she murmured. Almost uncontrollably, I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat.. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own.And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle.I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful.I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment. "I'm Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?" The woman's face broadened into a tolerant smile. "I don't know what this is about, son," she answered, "but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!" It's not difficult to understand and admire Miss Maynell's wisdom. The true nature of a heart is seen in its response to the unattractive. "Tell me whom you love," Houssaye wrote, "And I will tell you who you are."

Butterfly Kisses

We often learn the most from our children. Some time ago, a friend of mine punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight, and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the tree.

Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, "This is for you, Daddy." He was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his anger flared again when he found that the box was empty.

He yelled at her, "Don't you know that when you give someone a present, there's supposed to be something inside of it?"

The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said, "Oh, Daddy it's not empty. I blew kisses into the box. All for you, Daddy."

The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged her forgiveness. My friend told me that he kept that gold box by his bed for years. Whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there. In a very real sense, each parent has been given a gold container filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children.There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.

Thanks Allen Allison, for sending this story.

All Good Things

He was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary's School in Morris, Minn. All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one in a million. Very neat in appearance, but had that happy-to-be-alive attitude that made even his occasional mischievousness delightful.

Mark talked incessantly. I had to remind him again and again that talking without permission was not acceptable. What impressed me so much, though, was his sincere response every time I had to correct him for misbehaving - "Thank you for correcting me, Sister!"

I didn't know what to make of it at first, but before long I became accustomed to hearing it many times a day.

One morning my patience was growing thin when Mark talked once too often, and then I made a novice-teacher's mistake. I looked at Mark and said, "If you say one more word, I am going to tape your mouth shut!"

It wasn't ten seconds later when Chuck blurted out, "Mark is talking again." I hadn't asked any of the students to help me watch Mark, but since I had stated the punishment in front of the class, I had to act on it.

I remember the scene as if it had occurred this morning. I walked to my desk, very deliberately opened by drawer and took out a roll of masking tape. Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark's desk, tore off two pieces of tape and made a big X with them over his mouth. I then returned to the front of the room.

As I glanced at Mark to see how he was doing, he winked at me. That did it!! I started laughing. The class cheered as I walked back to Mark's desk, removed the tape, and shrugged my shoulders. His first words were, "Thank you for correcting me, Sister."

At the end of the year, I was asked to teach junior-high math. The years flew by, and before I knew it Mark was in my classroom again. He was more handsome than ever and just as polite. Since he had to listen carefully to my instruction in the "new math," he did not talk as much in ninth grade as he had in third. One Friday, things just didn't feel right. We had worked hard on a new concept all week, and I sensed that the students were frowning, frustrated with themselves - and edgy with one another. I had to stop this crankiness before it got out of hand.

So I asked them to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed me the papers. Charlie smiled. Mark said, "Thank you for teaching me, Sister. Have a good weekend."

That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and I listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday I gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" I heard whispered. "I never knew that meant anything to anyone!" "I didn't know others liked me so much." No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. I never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another again.

That group of students moved on. Several years later, after I returned from vacation, my parents met me at the airport. As we were driving home, Mother asked me the usual questions about the trip - the weather, my experiences in general. There was a lull in the conversation.

Mother gave Dad a side-ways glance and simply says, "Dad?" My father cleared his throat as he usually did before something important. "The

Eklunds called last night," he began. "Really?" I said. "I haven't heard from them in years. I wonder how Mark is."

Dad responded quietly. "Mark was killed in Vietnam," he said. "The funeral is tomorrow, and his parents would like it if you could attend."

To this day I can still point to the exact spot on I-494 where Dad told me about Mark.

I had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. Mark looked so handsome, so mature. All I could think at that moment was, Mark I would give all the masking tape in the world if only you would talk to me.

The church was packed with Mark's friends. Chuck's sister sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Why did it have to rain on the day of the funeral? It was difficult enough at the graveside. The pastor said the usual prayers, and the bugler played taps. One by one those who loved

Mark took a last walk by the coffin and sprinkled it with holy water. I was the last one to bless the coffin. As I stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to me. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. I nodded as I continued to stare at the coffin. "Mark talked about you a lot," he said.

After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates headed to Chuck's farmhouse for lunch. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting for me. "We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it."

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. I knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which I had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.

"Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it."

Mark's classmates started to gather around us. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home." Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album."

"I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary."

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said without batting an eyelash. "I think we all saved our lists."

That's when I finally sat down and cried. I cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

THE END Written by: Sister Helen P. Mrosla The purpose of this letter is to encourage everyone to compliment the people you love and care about. We often tend to forget the importance of showing our affections and love. Sometimes the smallest of things, could mean the most to another. I am asking you, to please send this letter around and spread the message and encouragement, to express your love and caring by complimenting and being open with communication. The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don't know when that one day will be. So please, I beg of you, to tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.

 Thanks Kanta Masters, for this story.

Church

His name is Joe. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is brilliant. Kinda esoteric and very, very bright. He became a Christian while attending college. Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. They want to develop a ministry to the students, but are not sure how to go about it. One day Joe decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started and so Joe starts down the aisle looking for a seat. The church is completely packed and he can't find a seat.

By now people are looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. Joe gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit and when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet. (Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, trust me, this had never happened in this church before!).

By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick. About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward Joe. Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, a three-piece suit, and a pocket watch. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly. He walks with a cane and as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves, you can't blame him for what he's going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor?

It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man's cane. All eyes are focused on him. You can't even hear anyone breathing. The people are thinking, the minister can't even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do. And now they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty he lowers himself and sits down next to Joe and worships with him so he won't be alone. Everyone chokes up with emotion. When the minister gains control he says, "What I'm about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget."

Author unknown

Jerry

Jerry is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!" He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, "I don`t get it! You can`t be a positive all the time. How do you do it?"

Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in bad mood. I chose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens,I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.

"Yeah, right, it`s not easy," I protested.

"Yes it is ," Jerry said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. you choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It`s your choice how you live life."

I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, But I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reaching to it. Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gun point by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care,Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body. I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied,"If I were any better, I`d be twins. Wanna see my scars?"I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied. "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or I could choose to die. I chose to live."

"Weren`t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?' I asked.

Jerry continued, "...the paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. "But when they wheeled me into ER and saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he`s a deadman'. I knew I needed to take action".

"What did you do?" I asked. "Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. "yes" I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, "bullets!" Over their laughter, I told them, " I am choosing to live." "Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead." Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude.

I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.

A Sandpiper To Bring You Joy

She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me. She was building a sandcastle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea. "Hello," she said.

I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child. Do you want to help me build my castle? "Not today" I said, not caring. " I like the feel of sand on my toes," she said smiling. That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by. "That's a joy," the child said.

"It's a what?" "That's joy gliding down the beach." "Good-bye joy," I muttered to myself, "hello pain," and turned to walk on. I was depressed; my life seemed completely out of balance.

"What's your name?" She wouldn't give up. "Robert," I answered. "I'm Robert Peterson." "Mine's Wendy... I'm six." "Hi, Wendy." In spite of my gloom I laughed too and walked on. Her musical giggle followed me. "Come again, Mr. P," she called. "We'll have another happy day." The days and weeks that followed belonged to others: a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, an myailing mother. The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. "I need a sandpiper,"

I said to myself, gathering up my coat. The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly, but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed. I had forgotten the child and was startled when she appeared.

"Hello, Mr. P," she said. "Do you want to play?" "I don't know, you say." "How about charades?" I asked sarcastically. The tinkling laughter burst forth again. "I don't know what that is."

"Then let's just walk." Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face. "Where do you live?" I asked. "Over there." She pointed toward a row of summer cottages. Strange, I thought, in winter. "Where do you go to school?" "I don't go to school. Mommy says we're on vacation."

She chattered like a little girl talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things. When I left for home, Wendy said it had been a happy day. Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed. Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood to even greet Wendy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding she keep her child at home. "Look, if you don't mind," I said crossly when Wendy caught up with me, "I'd rather be alone today." She seems unusually pale and out of breath. "Why?" she asked.

I turned to her and shouted, "Because my mother died!" and thought, my God, why was I saying this to a little child? "Oh," she said quietly, "then this is a bad day." "Yes," I said, "and yesterday and the day before and-oh, go away!" "Did it hurt? " she inquired. "Did what hurt?" I was exasperated with her, with myself. "When she died?" "Of course it hurt!!!!" I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself.

I strode off. A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn't there. Feeling guilty, ashamed and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door. "Hello," I said. "I'm Robert Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was."

"Oh yes, Mr. Peterson, please come in. Wendy spoke of you so much. I'm afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please, accept my apologies."

"Not at all-she's a delightful child," I said, suddenly realizing that I meant it. "Where is she?" "Wendy died last week, Mr. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn't tell you." Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. My breath caught. "She loved this beach; so when she asked to come, we couldn't say no. She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks, she declined rapidly..." her voice faltered. "She left something for you ... if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?"

I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something, anything, to say to this lovely young woman. She handed me a smeared envelope, with MR. P printed in bold, childish letters. Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues-a yellow beach, a blue sea, and a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed: A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY. Tears welled up in my eyes, and a heart that had almost forgotten to love opened wide. I took Wendy's mother in my arms. "I'm so sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," I muttered over and over, and we wept together. The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study.

Six words - one for each year of her life - that speak to me of harmony, courage, undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea-blue eyes and hair the color of sand-who taught me the gift of love.

The above is a true story sent out by Robert Peterson. "The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less." Life is so complicated, the hustle and bustle of everyday traumas, can make us lose focus about what is truly important.

Unconditional Acceptance

I am a mother of three (ages 14, 12, 3), and have recently completed my college degree. The last class I had to take was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely inspiring with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with.

Her last project of the term was called "Smile." The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reaction. I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say, hello anyway? so, I thought, this would be a piece of cake literally.

Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonalds, one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special play time with our son. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did.

I did not move an inch...an overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved. As I turned around, I smelled a horrible "dirty body" smell and there standing behind me were two poor homeless men. As I looked down at the short gentleman, close to me, he was "smiling". His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of God's Light as he searched for acceptance. He said, "Good day" as he counted the few coins he had been clutching. The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally deficient and the blue eyed gentleman was his salvation.

I held my tears as I stood there with them. The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted. He said, "Coffee is all Miss" because that was all they could afford (to sit in the restaurant and warm up, they had to buy something. They just wanted to be warm). Then I really felt it -- the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes. That is when I noticed all eyes in the restaurant were set on me -- judging my every action.

I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray. I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue eyed gentleman's cold hand. He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, "Thank you." I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, "I did not do this for you. God is here working through me to give you hope."

I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son. When I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, "That is why God gave you to me honey -- to give me hope." We held hands for a moment. We are not churchgoers, but we are believers. That day showed me the pure light of God's sweet love.

I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with this story in hand. I turned in "my project" and the instructor read it, then she looked up at me and said, "Can I share this?" I slowly nodded as she got the attention of the class. She began to read and that is when I knew that we as human beings (part of God) share this need to heal. In my own way I had touched the people at McDonalds, my husband, son, instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a college student.

I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn -- unconditional acceptance. After all, we are here to learn! Much love sent to each and every person who may read this.

Christmas Eve

Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. Bobby didn't wear boots; he didn't like them and anyway he didn't own any. The thin sneakers he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold.

Bobby had been in his backyard for about an hour already. And, try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother's Christmas gift. He shook his head as he thought, "This is useless, even if I do come up with an idea, I don't have any money to spend."

Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn't because his mother didn't care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far. What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made up for in love and family unity. Bobby had two older and one younger sister, who ran the household in their mother's absence. All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother.

Somehow it just wasn't fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing. Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and started to walk down to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn't easy being six without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to. Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window. Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach. It was starting to get dark and Bobby reluctantly turned to walk home when suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun's rays reflecting off of something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny dime. Never before has anyone felt so wealthy as Bobby felt at that moment.

As he held his new found treasure, a warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he saw. His excitement quickly turned cold when salesperson after salesperson told him that he could not buy anything with only a dime.

He saw a flower shop and went inside to wait in line. When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby presented the dime and asked if he could buy one flower for his mother's Christmas gift. The shop owner looked at Bobby and his ten cent offering. Then he put his hand on Bobby's shoulder and said to him, "You just wait here and I'll see what I can do for you."

As Bobby waited, he looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers.

The sound of the door closing as the last customer left, jolted Bobby back to reality. All alone in the shop, Bobby began to feel alone and afraid. Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter. There, before Bobby's eyes, lay twelve long stem, red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow. Bobby's heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into a long white box. "That will be ten cents young man." the shop owner said reaching out his hand for the dime.

Slowly, Bobby moved his hand to give the man his dime. Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his dime! Sensing the boy's reluctance, the shop owner added, "I just happened to have some roses on sale for ten cents a dozen. Would you like them?" This time Bobby did not hesitate, and when the man placed the long box into his hands, he knew it was true. Walking out the door that the owner was holding for Bobby, he heard the shop keeper say, "Merry Christmas, son."

As he returned inside, the shop keepers wife walked out. "Who were you talking to back there and where are the roses you were fixing?" Staring out the window, and blinking the tears from his own eyes, he replied, "A strange thing happened to me this morning. While I was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn't sure at the time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside anyway. Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with one small dime. When I looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago. I too was a poor boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars. When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice was, and I put together a dozen of my very best roses."

The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly, and as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn't feel cold at all.

Thanks again Kanta Masters.

This Magic Moment
by Jennifer Anderson

It was like many Maui mornings, the sun rising over Haleakala as we greeted our divers for the day's charter. As my captain and I explained the dive procedures, I noticed the wind line moving into Molokini, a small, crescent-shaped island that harbors a large reef. I slid through the briefing, then prompted my divers to gear up, careful to do everything right so the divers would feel confident with me, the dive leader.

The dive went pretty close to how I had described it: The garden eels performed their underwater ballet, the parrot fish grazed on the coral, and the ever-elusive male flame wrasse flared their colors to defend their territory. Near the last level of the dive, two couples in my group signaled they were going to ascend. As luck would have it, the remaining divers were two European brothers, who were obviously troubled by the idea of a "woman" dive master and had ignored me for the entire dive.

The three of us caught the current and drifted along the outside of the reef, slowly beginning our ascent until, far below, something caught my eye.
After a few moments, I made out the white shoulder patches of a manta ray in
about one hundred and twenty feet of water.

Manta rays are one of my greatest loves, but very little is known about them. They feed on plankton, which makes them more delicate than an aquarium can handle. They travel the oceans and are therefore a mystery.

Mantas can be identified by the distinctive pattern on their belly, with no two rays alike. In 1992, I had been identifying the manta rays that were seen at Molokini and found that some were known, but many more were sighted only once, and then gone.

So there I was... a beautiful, very large ray beneath me and my skeptical divers behind. I reminded myself that I was still trying to win their confidence, and a bounce to see this manta wouldn't help my case. So I started calling through my regulator, "Hey, come up and see me!" I had tried this before to attract the attention of whales and dolphins, who are very chatty underwater and will come sometimes just to see what the noise is
about. My divers were just as puzzled by my actions, but continued to try to ignore me.

There was another dive group ahead of us. The leader, who was a friend of mine and knew me to be fairly sane, stopped to see what I was doing. I kept calling to the ray, and when she shifted in the water column, I took that as a sign that she was curious. So I started waving my arms, calling her up to me.

After a minute, she lifted away from where she had been riding the current and began to make a wide circular glide until she was closer to me. I kept watching as she slowly moved back and forth, rising higher, until she was directly beneath the two Europeans and me. I looked at them and was pleased to see them smiling. Now they liked me. After all, I could call up a manta ray!

Looking back to the ray, I realized she was much bigger than what we were used to around Molokini - a good fifteen feet from wing tip to wing tip, and not a familiar-looking ray. I had not seen this animal before. There was something else odd about her. I just couldn't figure out what it was.

Once my brain clicked in and I was able to concentrate, I saw deep V-shaped marks of her flesh missing from her backside. Other marks ran up and down her body. At first I thought a boat had hit her. As she came closer, now with only ten feet separating us, I realized what was wrong.

She had fishing hooks embedded in her head by her eye, with very thick fishing line running to her tail. She had rolled with the line and was wrapped head to tail about five or six times. The line had torn into her body at the back, and those were the V-shaped chunks that were missing.

I felt sick and, for a moment, paralyzed. I knew wild animals in pain would never tolerate a human to inflict more pain. But I had to do something.

Forgetting about my air, my divers and where I was, I went to the manta. I moved very slowly and talked to her the whole time, like she was one of the horses I had grown up with. When I touched her, her whole body quivered, like my horse would. I put both of my hands on her, then my entire body, talking to her the whole time. I knew that she could knock me off at any time with one flick of her great wing.

When she had steadied, I took out the knife that I carry on my inflator hose and lifted one of the lines. It was tight and difficult to get my finger under, almost like a guitar string. She shook, which told me to be gentle. It was obvious that the slightest pressure was painful.

As I cut through the first line, it pulled into her wounds. With one beat of her mighty wings, she dumped me and bolted away. I figured that she was gone and was amazed when she turned and came right back to me, gliding under my body. I went to work. She seemed to know it would hurt, and somehow, she also knew that I could help. Imagine the intelligence of that creature, to come for help and to trust!

I cut through one line and into the next until she had all she could take of me and would move away, only to return in a moment or two. I never chased her. I would never chase any animal. I never grabbed her. I allowed her to be in charge, and she always came back.

When all the lines were cut on top, on her next pass, I went under her to pull the lines through the wounds at the back of her body. The tissue had started to grow around them, and they were difficult to get loose. I held myself against her body, with my hand on her lower jaw. She held as motionless as she could. When it was all-loose, I let her go and watched her swim in a circle. She could have gone then, and it would have all fallen away. She came back, and I went back on top of her.

The fishing hooks were still in her. One was barely hanging on, which I removed easily. The other was buried by her eye at least two inches past the barb. Carefully, I began to take it out, hoping I wasn't damaging anything. She did open and close her eye while I worked on her, and finally, it was out. I held the hooks in one hand, while I gathered the fishing line in the other hand, my weight on the manta.

I could have stayed there forever! I was totally oblivious to everything but that moment. I loved this manta. I was so moved that she would allow me to do this to her. But reality came screaming down on me. With my air running out, I reluctantly came to my senses and pushed myself away.

At first, she stayed below me. And then, when she realized that she was free, she came to life like I never would have imagined she could. I thought she was sick and weak, since her mouth had been tied closed, and she hadn't been able to feed for however long the lines had been on her. I thought wrong! With two beats of those powerful wings, she rocketed along the wall of Molokini and then directly out to sea!

I lost view of her and, remembering my divers, turned to look for them. Remarkably, we hadn't traveled very far. My divers were right above me and had witnessed the whole event, thankfully! No one would have believed me alone. It seemed too amazing to have really happened. But as I looked at the hooks and line in my hands and felt the torn calluses from her rough skin, I knew that, yes, it really had happened.

I kicked in the direction of my divers, whose eyes were still wide from the encounter, only to have them signal me to stop and turn around. Until this moment, the whole experience had been phenomenal, but I could explain it.
Now, the moment turned magical. I turned and saw her slowly gliding toward me. With barely an effort, she approached me and stopped, her wing just touching my head. I looked into her round, dark eye, and she looked deeply into me. I felt a rush of something that so overpowered me; I have yet to find the words to describe it, except a warm and loving flow of energy from her into me.

She stayed with me for a moment. I don't know if it was a second or an hour.
Then, as sweetly as she came back, she lifted her wing over my head and was gone. A manta thank-you.

I hung in midwater, using the safety-stop excuse, and tried to make sense of what I had experienced. Eventually, collecting myself, I surfaced and was greeted by an ecstatic group of divers and a curious captain. They all gave me time to get my heart started and to begin to breathe.

Sadly, I have not seen her since that day, and I am still looking. For the longest time, though my wetsuit was tattered and torn, I would not change it because I thought she wouldn't recognize me. I call to every manta I see, and they almost always acknowledge me in some way. One day, though, it will be her. She'll hear me and pause, remembering the giant cleaner that she trusted to relieve her pain, and she'll come.
---At least that is how it happens in my dreams.

Scans uncover secrets of the womb

A new type of ultrasound scan has produced the vivid pictures of a 12 week-old foetus "walking" in the womb.

The new images also show foetuses apparently yawning and rubbing its eyes.

The scans, pioneered by Professor Stuart Campbell at London's Create Health Clinic, are much more detailed than conventional ultrasound.

Professor Campbell has previously released images of unborn babies appearing to smile.

He has compiled a book of the images called Watch Me Grow.

Conventional ultrasound, usually offered to mothers at 12 and 20 weeks, produces 2D images of the developing foetus.

These are very useful for helping doctors to measure and assess the growth of the foetus, but convey very little information about behaviour.

Complex behaviour

Professor Campbell has perfected a technique which not only produces detailed 3D images, but records foetal movement in real time.

He says his work has been able to show for the first time that the unborn baby engages in complex behaviour from an early stage of its development.

Professor Campbell told the BBC: "This is a new science for understanding and mapping out the behaviour of the baby.

"Maybe in the future it will help us understand and diagnose genetic disease, maybe even conditions like cerebral palsy which puzzles the medical profession as to why it occurs."

The images have shown:

  • From 12 weeks, unborn babies can stretch, kick and leap around the womb - well before the mother can feel movement
  • From 18 weeks, they can open their eyes although most doctors thought eyelids were fused until 26 weeks
  • From 26 weeks, they appear to exhibit a whole range of typical baby behaviour and moods, including scratching, smiling, crying, hiccoughing, and sucking.
Until recently it was thought that smiling did not start until six weeks after birth.

An hour long session using the new technology, which is not yet available on the NHS, costs £275.

Things to Ponder

Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.

If you can't see the bright side of life, polish the dull side.

Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.










Is This Possible?




Are the purple lines straight or bent?


Do you see gray areas in between the squares?
Now where did they come from?


You should see a man's face and also a word...
Hint: Try tilting your head to the right, the world begins with 'L'


If you take a look at the following? picture , let me tell you ... it is not animated.? Your eyes are making it move.? To test this, stare at one spot for a couple seconds and everything will stop moving.? Or look at the black center of each circle and it will stop moving.? But move your eyes to the next black center and the previous will move after you take your eyes away from it....? Weird?














Have you searched for this?

AN ARIEL PHOTO OF RANCHI ASHRAM from Google Earth you can find ariel photos of most parts of the planet for free by downloading this free software.

 

Meditating does more than just feel good and calm you down

NewScientist.com news service
Alison Motluk

Meditating does more than just feel good and calm you down, it makes you perform better – and alters the structure of your brain, researchers have found.

People who meditate say the practice restores their energy, and some claim they need less sleep as a result. Many studies have reported that the brain works differently during meditation – brainwave patterns change and neuronal firing patterns synchronise. But whether meditation actually brings any of the restorative benefits of sleep has remained largely unexplored.

So Bruce O’Hara and colleagues at the University of Kentucky in Lexington , US , decided to investigate. They used a well-established “psychomotor vigilance task”, which has long been used to quantify the effects of sleepiness on mental acuity. The test involves staring at an LCD screen and pressing a button as soon as an image pops up. Typically, people take 200 to 300 milliseconds to respond, but sleep-deprived people take much longer, and sometimes miss the stimulus altogether.

Ten volunteers were tested before and after 40 minutes of either sleep, meditation, reading or light conversation, with all subjects trying all conditions. The 40-minute nap was known to improve performance (after an hour or so to recover from grogginess). But what astonished the researchers was that meditation was the only intervention that immediately led to superior performance, despite none of the volunteers being experienced at meditation.

“Every single subject showed improvement,” says O’Hara. The improvement was ev en more dramatic after a night without sleep. But, he admits: “Why it improves performance, we do not know.” The team is now studying experienced meditators, who spend s ev eral hours each day in practice.

Brain builder
What effect meditating has on the structure of the brain has also been a matter of some debate. Now Sara Lazar at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, US, and colleagues have used MRI to compare 15 meditators, with experience ranging from 1 to 30 years, and 15 non-meditators.

They found that meditating actually increases the thickness of the cortex in areas involved in attention and sensory processing, such as the prefrontal cortex and the right anterior insula.

“You are exercising it while you meditate, and it gets bigger,” she says. The finding is in line with studies showing that accomplished musicians, athletes and linguists all have thickening in rel ev ant areas of the cortex. It is further ev idence, says Lazar, that yogis “aren’t just sitting there doing nothing".

The growth of the cortex is not due to the growth of new neurons, she points out, but results from wider blood vessels, more supporting structures such as glia and astrocytes, and increased branching and connections.

The new studies were presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, in Washington DC , US .

 

Meditating does more than just feel good and calm you down
NewScientist.com news service
Alison Motluk

Meditating does more than just feel good and calm you down, it makes you perform better – and alters the structure of your brain, researchers have found.

People who meditate say the practice restores their energy, and some claim they need less sleep as a result. Many studies have reported that the brain works differently during meditation – brainwave patterns change and neuronal firing patterns synchronise. But whether meditation actually brings any of the restorative benefits of sleep has remained largely unexplored.

So Bruce O’Hara and colleagues at the University of Kentucky in Lexington , US , decided to investigate. They used a well-established “psychomotor vigilance task”, which has long been used to quantify the effects of sleepiness on mental acuity. The test involves staring at an LCD screen and pressing a button as soon as an image pops up. Typically, people take 200 to 300 milliseconds to respond, but sleep-deprived people take much longer, and sometimes miss the stimulus altogether.

Ten volunteers were tested before and after 40 minutes of either sleep, meditation, reading or light conversation, with all subjects trying all conditions. The 40-minute nap was known to improve performance (after an hour or so to recover from grogginess). But what astonished the researchers was that meditation was the only intervention that immediately led to superior performance, despite none of the volunteers being experienced at meditation.

“Every single subject showed improvement,” says O’Hara. The improvement was ev en more dramatic after a night without sleep. But, he admits: “Why it improves performance, we do not know.” The team is now studying experienced meditators, who spend s ev eral hours each day in practice.

Brain builder
What effect meditating has on the structure of the brain has also been a matter of some debate. Now Sara Lazar at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, US, and colleagues have used MRI to compare 15 meditators, with experience ranging from 1 to 30 years, and 15 non-meditators.

They found that meditating actually increases the thickness of the cortex in areas involved in attention and sensory processing, such as the prefrontal cortex and the right anterior insula.

“You are exercising it while you meditate, and it gets bigger,” she says. The finding is in line with studies showing that accomplished musicians, athletes and linguists all have thickening in rel ev ant areas of the cortex. It is further ev idence, says Lazar, that yogis “aren’t just sitting there doing nothing".

The growth of the cortex is not due to the growth of new neurons, she points out, but results from wider blood vessels, more supporting structures such as glia and astrocytes, and increased branching and connections.

The new studies were presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, in Washington DC , US .

.

A Story Worth Reading

A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside. "Your son is here," she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words several times before the patient's eyes opened.

Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out with his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man's limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement. The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed.

All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward,holding the old man's hand and offering him words of love and strength.

Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile. He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital - the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients.

Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night. Along towards dawn, the old man died.

The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited.

Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her.

"Who was that man?" he asked.

The nurse was startled, "He was your father" she answered.

"No, he wasn't," the Marine replied. "I never saw him before in my life."

"Then why didn't you say something when I took you to him?"

"I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn't here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed."

The next time someone needs you...be there. "Stay, You'll be glad you did."

.

Wet Pants

Come with me to a third grade classroom...

There is a nine-year-old kid sitting at his desk and all of a sudden, there is a puddle between his feet and the front of his pants are wet. He thinks his heart is going to stop because he cannot possibly imagine how this has happened. It's never happened before, and he knows that when the boys find out he will never hear the end of it. When the girls find out, they'll never speak to him again as long as he lives.

The boy believes his heart is going to stop; he puts his head down and prays this prayer, "Dear God, this is an emergency! I need help now! Five minutes from now I'm dead meat."

He looks up from his prayer and here comes the teacher with a look in her eyes that says he has been discovered.

As the teacher is walking toward him, a classmate named Susie is carrying a goldfish bowl that is filled with water Susie trips in front of the teacher and inexplicably dumps the bowl of water in the boy's lap.

The boy pretends to be angry, but all the while is saying to himself, "Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!"

Now all of a sudden, instead of being the object of ridicule, the boy is the object of sympathy. The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on while his pants dry out.

All the other children are on their hands and knees cleaning up around his desk. The sympathy is wonderful. But as life would have it, the ridicule that should have been his has been transferred to someone else - Susie. She tries to help, but they tell her to get out. "You've done enough, you klutz!"

Finally, at the end of the day, as they are waiting for the bus, the boy walks over to Susie and whispers, "You did that on purpose, didn't you?"

Susie whispers back, "I wet my pants once too."

May God help us see the opportunities that are always around us to do good.

Remember....Just going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.

I not only love the story --- I love this last quote!!

I only hope that in the coming years there will be many people with fish bowls around me!!!

.

Two Wolves

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:

"Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

.

Sand & Stone (Author unknown)

Two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument and one friend slapped the other one in the face.

The one who was slapped was hurt, but without saying anything wrote in the sand: TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE

The two kept walking, until they found an oasis where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped became stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him.

After he recovered from near drowning, he wrote on a stone: TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE

The friend who slapped and saved his best friend asked him, "After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?"

The other friend replied, "When someone hurts us, we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it."

.

'Oh Mommy please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please?'

Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face.

'A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. If you really wa nt them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma.'

As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.

Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere, Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night as he finished the story, he asked Jenny, 'Do you love me?

'Oh yes, daddy. You know that I love you.'

'Then give me your pearls.'

'Oh, daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess, the white horse from my collection, the one with the pink tail. Remember, daddy? The one you gave me. She's my very favorite.'

'That's okay, Honey, daddy loves you. Good night.' And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, 'Do you love me?'

'Daddy, you know I love you.'

'Then give me your pearls.'

'Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper.'

'That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you.'

And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian style.

As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. 'What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?'

Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, 'Here, daddy; this is for you.'

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny.

He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her the genuine treasure. So it is, with our Heavenly Father. He is waiting for u s to give up the cheap things in our lives so that he can give us beautiful treasures.

Isn't God good? Are you holding onto things that God wants You to let go of? Are you holding on to harmful or unnecessary partners, relationships, habits and activities that you have come so attached to that it seems impossible to let go? Sometimes it is so hard to see what is in the other hand but do believe this one thing.

God will never take away something without giving you something better in its place.

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The Power of God at Work

A brand new pastor and his wife were assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn. They arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.

They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc, and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On December 19 a terrible tempest, a driving rainstorm, hit the area and lasted for two days.

On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.

The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.

By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus.. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later.

She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet.

"Pastor," she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?" The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were.

These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria. The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the Tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. He was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again.

The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth, but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, that was the least he could do.. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn't leaving.

The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war, and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike. He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison.. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between.

The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier.

He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door, and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

True Story - submitted by Pastor Rob Reid

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GANDHISM....A Must Read for All Parents, Teachers and Leaders

Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and founder of the M.K.Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, in his June 9 lecture at the University of Puerto Rico, shared the following story:

I was 16 years old and living with my parents at the institute my grandfather had founded 18 miles outside of Durban, South Africa, in the middle of the sugarplantations.

One day, my father asked me to drive him to town for an all-day conference, and I jumped at the chance. Since I was going to town, my mother gave me a list of groceries she needed and, since I had all day in town, my father asked me to take care of several pending chores, such as getting the car serviced.

When I dropped my father off that morning, he said, "I will meet you here at 5:00 p.m., and we will go home together.".

After hurriedly completing my chores, I went straight to the nearest movie theatre. I got so engrossed in a John Wayne double-feature that I forgot the time. It was 5:30 before I remembered. By the time I ran to the garage and got the car and hurried to where my father was waiting for me, it was almost 6:00.

He anxiously asked me, "Why were you late?"

I was so ashamed of telling him I was watching a John Wayne western movie that I said, "The car wasn't ready, so I had to wait," not realizing that he had already called the garage.

When he caught me in the lie, he said: "There's something wrong in the way I brought you up that didn't give you the confidence to tell me the truth. In order to figure out where I went wrong with you, I'm going to walk home 18 miles and think about it."

So, dressed in his suit and dress shoes, he began to walk home in the dark on mostly unpaved, unlit roads.

I couldn't leave him, so for five-and-a-half hours I drove behind him, watching my father go through this agony for a stupid lie that I uttered. I decided then and there that I was never going to lie again. I often think about that episode and wonder, if he had punished me the way we punish our children, whether I would have learned a lesson at all.

I don't think so. I would have suffered the punishment and gone on doing the same thing. But this single non-violent action was so powerful that it is still as if it happened yesterday. That is the power of non-violence.

 

Read this before seeing the photo below.

A picture began circulating in November. It should be "The Picture of the Year," or perhaps, "Picture of the Decade." It won't be.

In fact, unless you obtained a copy of the US paper which published it, you probably would never have seen it. The picture is that of a 21-week-old unborn baby named Samuel Alexander Armas, who is being operated on by a surgeon named Joseph Bruner.

The baby was diagnosed with spina bifida and would not survive if removed from his mother's womb. Little Samuel's mother, Julie Armas, is an obstetrics nurse in Atlanta She knew of Dr. Bruner's remarkable surgical procedure. Practicing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, he performs these special operations while the baby is still in the womb.

During the procedure, the doctor removes the uterus via C-section and makes a small incision to operate on the baby. As Dr. Bruner completed the surgery on Samuel, the little guy reached his tiny, but fully developed hand through the incision and firmly grasped the surgeon's finger. Dr. Bruner was reported as saying that when his finger was grasped, it was the most emotional moment of his life, and that for an instant during the procedure he was just frozen, totally immobile. The photograph captures this amazing event with perfect clarity. The editors titled the picture, "Hand of Hope."

The text explaining the picture begins, "The tiny hand of 21-week-old fetus Samuel Alexander Armas emerges from the mother's uterus to grasp the finger of Dr. Joseph Bruner as if thanking the doctor for the gift of life."

'Little Samuel's mother said they "wept for days" when they saw the picture. She said, "The photo reminds us pregnancy isn't about disability or an illness, it's about a little person."

Samuel was born in perfect health, the operation 100 percent successful.

 

Acres of Diamonds

One of the most interesting Americans who lived in the 19th century was a man by the name of Russell Herman Conwell. He was born in 1843 and lived until 1925. He was a lawyer for about fifteen years until he became a clergyman. One day, a young man went to him and told him he wanted a college education but couldn't swing it financially. Dr. Conwell decided, at that moment, what his aim in life was, besides being a man of cloth - that is. He decided to build a university for unfortunate, but deserving, students. He did have a challenge, however. He would need a few million dollars to build the university. For Dr. Conwell, and anyone with real purpose in life, nothing could stand in the way of his goal. Several years before this incident, Dr. Conwell was tremendously intrigued by a true story - with its ageless moral. The story was about a farmer who lived in Africa and through a visitor became tremendously excited about looking for diamonds. Diamonds were already discovered in abundance on the African continent and this farmer got so excited about the idea of millions of dollars worth of diamonds that he sold his farm to head out to the diamond line. He wandered all over the continent, as the years slipped by, constantly searching for diamonds, wealth, which he never found. Eventually he went completely broke and threw himself into a river and drowned. Meanwhile, the new owner of his farm picked up an unusual looking rock about the size of a country egg and put it on his mantle as a sort of curiosity. A visitor stopped by and in viewing the rock practically went into terminal convulsions. He told the new owner of the farm that the funny looking rock on his mantle was about the biggest diamond that had ever been found. The new owner of the farm said, "Heck, the whole farm is covered with them" - and sure enough it was. The farm turned out to be the Kimberly Diamond Mine...the richest the world has ever known. The original farmer was literally standing on "Acres of Diamonds" until he sold his farm. Dr. Conwell learned from the story of the farmer and continued to teach it's moral. Each of us is right in the middle of our own "Acre of Diamonds", if only we would realize it and develop the ground we are standing on before charging off in search of greener pastures. Dr. Conwell told this story many times and attracted enormous audiences. He told the story long enough to have raised the money to start the college for underprivileged deserving students. In fact, he raised nearly six million dollars and the university he founded, Temple University in Philadelphia, has at least ten degree-granting colleges and six other schools. When Doctor Russell H. Conwell talked about each of us being right on our own "Acre of Diamonds", he meant it. This story does not get old...it will be true forever... Opportunity does not just come along - it is there all the time - we just have to see it. Reach out and touch someone with your Love & Gratitude.

 

PERSPECTIVE

A group of alumni, all highly established in their respective careers, got together for a visit with their old university professor. The conversation soon turned to complaints about the endless stress of work and life in general. . .

Offering his guest’s hot chocolate, the professor went into the kitchen and soon returned with a large pot of hot chocolate and an eclectic assortment of cups: porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal - some plain, some expensive, some quite exquisite.

Quietly he told them to help themselves to some fresh chocolate.

When each of his former students had a cup of chocolate in hand, the old professor quietly cleared his throat and began to patiently address the small gathering. . .

''You may have noticed that all of the nicer looking cups were taken up first, leaving behind the plainer and cheaper ones. While it is only natural for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is actually the source of much of your stress-related problems."

He continued . . .''Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the hot chocolate. In fact, the cup merely disguises or dresses up what we drink. What each of you really wanted was hot chocolate, not a cup, but you instinctively went for the best cups. . . Then you began eyeing each other's cups. . .''

''Now consider this: Life is hot chocolate. Jobs, money, and position in society are merely cups. They are just tools to shape and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not truly define nor change the quality of the Life we live. Often, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the hot chocolate that God has provided us. . . God brews the hot chocolate, but he does not supply the cups. Enjoy your hot chocolate!''

The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything they have. . . So please remember: Live simply . Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God! And remember - The richest person is not the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least.

-- "Humility is perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted, or vexed, or irritated, or sore, or disappointed." Canon T.T. Carter (1809-1901)

 

The Socrates Triple Filter Test

In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great
philosopher and said, "Do you know what I just heard about your friend?"

Hold on a minute," Socrates replied. "Before telling me anything, I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Triple Filter Test."

"Triple filter?"

That's right," Socrates continued. "Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you're going to say. That's why I call it the triple filter test. The first filter is TRUTH. “Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”

"No," the man said, "actually I just heard about it and..."

All right," said Socrates. "So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second filter, the filter of GOODNESS. “Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?”

"No, on the contrary..."

"So", Socrates continued, "you want to tell me something bad about my friend, but you're not certain it's true. You may still pass the test though, because there's one filter left: the filter of USEFULNESS. “Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?”

“No... not really...”

“Well,” concluded Socrates, "If what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor useful, why tell it to me at all?"

This is why Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem. So, lets use this triple filter each time we hear loose talk about any of our near & dear ones (friends/relatives/colleagues). It will save us time and trouble.

 

The following inspiring excerpt is from the fall 2008 Self Realization magazine, taken from a talk given by Paramahansa Yogananda in Encinitas. California

"I remember one boy in my school was accused of some wrong act. The teachers felt it was sufficiently serious that they wanted me to expel him. That would have meant that for four years he could not get into any other school.

I said, ”I won’t do that to him; I cannot sponsor such an idea. He may have done wrong, but I shall reason with him and forgive him, “There was a big commotion of disagreement. So I said to the teachers: “Remember all the things that you have done during and since your childhood. Can you tell me you have never done anything reprehensibly wrong?” They all hung their heads. “If that boy were your son, would you send him out?”

No one spoke. I said,” He is my son, and I will hear him.”

So I called this boy to me; he came in very defiant: "Go ahead, I know you are going to throw me out.”

“What makes you think so?” I replied. Again he challenged me rebelliously: “Go ahead.” I replied, “How Childish of you. You have done wrong, and you are proud of it. What is the matter with you? Suppose you did do wrong, that doesn’t mean you have to do wrong again.”

He hung his head. “Don’t do it again,” I said. He looked at me like the little child that he was. “You mean you won’t send me away?”

“You know that what you did was wrong, don’t you?”

He said, “Yes”

“Isn’t that enough?” I said.

“Don’t repeat it.”

Tears came in his eyes and he told me, “You know, I had made up my mind that if you sent me away, I would use my life to do all the evil things that I could.” Then he went on, “I am sorry for what I have done, and promise you that I will never do it again.”

Years later when I went to India, I learned that he had gone to England to further his education and opportunities. He now had a successful career, was very spiritual, and had a wonderful family. He came to me in tears and said, “Do you remember me?” I greeted him lovingly. He said, “That day that you forgave me made me what I am today. It is all due to your faith in me.” He embraced me and cried like a child.

If I had sent that young boy away from my school, he would not have become the remarkable man his is. He would have been nothing today. So remember, love changes people; their part is to repent of their wrongdoing and cultivate discrimination and won’t power to guide their future behavior

 

Seeing God in Others

Once upon a time, there was an ashram in the Himalayas where a great sage and his disciples lived. They all respected their Guru not only for his knowledge, but also for his love and kindness towards all.

Because of his kind nature he often accepted disciples who were spiritually immature. This resulted in silly misunderstandings and quarrels among some of his disciples breaking the peace and tranquility of the hermitage.

One day the Guru was very disturbed to see their immature behavior even after his repeated advice. It saddened his good heart to see his disciples turning into slaves of jealousy and anger. His compassion did not let him throw anyone out of his hermitage. Instead, he sincerely prayed to God to give him a solution. He fasted for many days, and spent the days by himself in meditation and prayer.

After some days of fasting and intense prayers, he had a vision of the Lord. In the vision, God asked him why he was sad. He explained everything and requested Him to come to the ashram and free their minds of jealousy, anger, and desire for power. To his surprise, the Lord immediately agreed and told him that He would come to the ashram on one condition: He would come in disguise as one of the disciples, and nobody would know who was God in disguise. The Guru announced to his disciples about his vision and Bhagavan's kind decision to come as one of his disciples.

The disciples were very happy when they heard about Bhagavan's plan to come and live with them in disguise. But they did not know who was Bhagavan and everybody was very gentle and considerate to each other thinking that the other disciple might be Bhagavan Himself in disguise. When they lived like that for a few months, peace and tranquility filled their hearts as well as the hermitage.

In their pure minds, they felt the Lord's blissful presence and they started treating each other, and thinking of each other, as none other than Bhagavan Himself in disguise! The whole ashram was reverberating with blissful positive vibrations emanating from everyone! This great sage and his disciples told their experience to others and inspired them also to respect each other and to pranam to the divinity in every one.

Since then, everybody started greeting each other saying "namaste" with folded hands : namah + te, meaning "I bow to That (Divinity) inherent in you."\

May the Lord help us also to see His divinity in everybody! Namaste!

 

 

Thanks to Jim Ballard for sending this .

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six-year-old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant."

I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as “Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment - songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row-center stage -- held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."

The performance was going smoothly until suddenly we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down -- totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W."

The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W." Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.

For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear: "C H R I S T W A S L O V E"
And, I believe, He still is. Amazed in His presence... Humbled by His love.

 

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